Castle Mountain Lodge Blog

Subscribe to our blog and get updates about news and events from Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park and Castle Mountain Lodge.

Classic Hikes In Rocky Mountain National Park (Summer Edition)

Classic RMNP Summer Hikes

For good reason, the summer months in Rocky Mountain National Park are the most popular months to visit. The weather in the high country this time of year is just about perfect. Cool mornings, warm afternoons, and those summer storms that roll through after lunch provide ideal weather for getting out and exploring the trails. With the hundreds of miles of hiking trails at your disposal, where do you begin?!

A few things to consider when choosing where to go. What do you want to see? Waterfall? Lake? Summit? Wildlife? Different hikes provide different scenery and experiences. Choosing what you want to see will narrow it down. Now figure out how long you want to hike? Are you wanting to keep it short and sweet, or are you ready for an all day trek into the back country? Finally, are you wanting something a little less popular or are you ok being around other hikers to see the quintessential and classic RMNP landscape?

Here we’re going to cover a few of the classics that have contributed to sparking the wonder and curiosity in all who have wondered into these mountains for hundreds of years.

Dream Lake
Dream Lake on a summer day

Dream Lake

We’re not sure one destination can represent Rocky Mountain National Park more than Dream Lake. In the stunningly beautiful Tyndall Gorge, Dream Lake sits below the dramatic east face of Hallett Peak and the Flattop Spires on the south side of Flattop Mountain. It’s relatively close to the trail head at Bear Lake, only 1.1 miles away, and isn’t a terribly steep hike either. For these reasons, it’s one of the more popular destinations in RMNP, so don’t expect much solitude. It’s great for kids and you can see a few lakes along this trail (Bear Lake & Nymph Lake) with a plethora of other options beyond Dream if you want to extend your adventure. For more on this hike, click here: All Trails Link

Ouzel Falls
Ouzel Falls in Wild Basin

Ouzel Falls

The name may not sound familiar, but surely, you’ve seen a picture of this stunning waterfall that sits in the middle elevations of Wild Basin on the southeast side of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s image is used in many advertisements for outdoor gear and lifestyle publications, as well as countless Instagram stories and TikTok… toks? A little harder to get to, this unique waterfall is about 2.5 miles from the Wild Basin Trailhead but only gains elevation moderately. It’s a captivating hike along the Thunder Lake Trail beside North Saint Vrain Creek. You pass Copeland Falls and Calypso Cascades along the way as well. A worthy destination that will provide moments of solitude, unlike the busy Bear Lake corridor. Want to hike Ouzel? Learn more here: All Trails Link

Flattop Mountain
Hiking across the summit of Flattop Mountain on the way to Hallett Peak.

Flattop Mountain

The most popular large summit hike not named Longs Peak in Rocky, Flattop Mountain is as classic as classic gets. Topping out at about 12,450 feet, this hike takes you to the continental divide on a broad, flat summit. 4.5 miles to the top while gaining more than 2,800 feet, this hike is to be respected, though it’s well worth the effort. Be sure to start early and be down below tree line before the afternoon storms form to your west. And if you have any more in your legs, hop over to Hallett Peak, about a half mile and 300 vertical feet away. More info on this hike here: All Trails Link

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Opportunities are endless in Rocky and there are far too many incredible destinations to list in one blog post, but this should get you going. Be smart, use common sense, know your limits, and enjoy every step!

Post Categories: